A Review of Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’

Netflix’s Take on The Classic Anime Takes You On a Journey to Space



Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” faces challenges of adapting the original 1998 anime, balancing between staying faithful to the source material and incorporating new ideas.

Shayne Williamson, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. –  After years of anticipation, Netflix released their live action adaptation of the 1998 anime, “Cowboy Bebop,” a show that follows a group of bounty hunters in space chasing various criminals.

Adapting anime to live action has proven to be a difficult task for filmmakers and showrunners over the years, as animation is unburdened by the limitations of real-world physics that live action adaptations must abide by.

“There are obviously things that we cannot achieve with real people that an anime can,” “Cowboy Bebop” showrunner Andre Nemec said in an interview with Polygon. We would look at sets, we would look at props, we would look at costumes, we would look at the edits, we would talk about all of these things, not to ape the anime, but to live in the spirit of the anime.”

Despite acknowledging the difficulty in replicating animation to live action, Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” stays faithful to the original source material on several levels – from replicating main character Spike Spiegel’s iconic outfit to repurposing plots of entire episodes from the original “Cowboy Bebop” anime such as “Asteroid Blues” and “Ballad of Fallen Angels” to varying degrees of success.

This is not to say that Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” is devoid of any of its own ideas. A major part of the first season is the expanded characters of Julia, Spike’s love interest, and Vicious, Spike’s former best friend turned arch-nemesis. In the original anime, both Julia and Vicious’ backstories were left mostly unexplored, while Netflix’s adaptation takes significant steps towards fleshing out both characters’ motivations.

Ultimately, the success of Netflix’s adaptation fell into the hands of John Cho, who plays Spike Spiegel; Mustafa Shakir, who plays Jet Black and Daniella Pineda, who plays Faye Valentine – the core trio of bounty hunters at the heart of the show. 

Faced with the task of replicating the chemistry between the main cast of the original show, Netflix’s trio of actors step up to the plate with confidence and get better as the first season progresses, showing off well-executed banter that makes hanging out with the crew an enjoyable time.